A Win Is a Win Is a Win: Celtics Take Game 5
A win is a win is a win. Keep telling yourself this.
Forget the inexplicable loss of composure by the Celtics in the fourth quarter that allowed the Pistons back into the game. Forget the grand total of 3 points contributed by the Boston bench. Forget all the unforced turnovers. Forget the steady stream of defensive lapses throughout the game. Forget the fact that Rajon Rondo had to play 46 minutes because the Celtics have no answer for Lindsey Hunter’s traps. Forget all those open looks that Kevin Garnett bypassed down the stretch. Forget Kenny Mauer’s maddening incompetence. Forget it all and wipe the slate clean. It’s the crucial swing game of the series and Boston came away the victors. All the rest of it is ancillary because Boston is now firmly strapped into the driver’s seat and positioned to cruise into the NBA Finals. This is now officially their series to lose.
The game was won by the five Boston starters, but most notably on the backs of Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins.
Allen brought out his vintage self and it was his offense in the second half that first drove the lead up to 17 points and then brought his team home in the final 62 seconds. First, he hit a jumper just shy of the arc with 1:02 remaining that brought Boston’s lead back to three. The importance of this jumper cannot be overstated because Detroit’s defense had become suffocating and no one else wearing green appeared to want to take the shot. Then, after a pair of cool free throws from Piston rookie Rodney Stuckey, Allen sunk his own two freebies with 6 seconds remaining to all but put the game away. If you’re still wondering if Allen was feeling it, check out his 5-6 shooting line from deep waters.
Perkins submitted one of his monster first quarters (8 rebounds and 8 points) but then atypically keep the pedal to the floor to finish with 16 boards and 18 points on 8-11 shooting. He also had 2 blocks and 2 steals.
The Big Three, after a lackluster Game, returned to form to score 78 of Boston’s 106 point total, shooting a cool 58% from the field on a combined basis. Rondo had a tough night with his own offense, frequently turning down the open looks that resulted from Detroit’s 5-on-4 defense on the other Boston players, although he did dish out 13 assists with only 1 turnover. Perhaps his shot was affected by flat out fatigue, considering Sam Cassell’s ineffectiveness that caused Doc Rivers to yank Rondo back into the game after a two minute respite in the first half.
In other news, Kenny Mauer reasserted himself as the worst official this side of Violet Palmer. Having Mauer as part of the assigned crew of an important game is like seeing a seven day forecast of rain on the night before you leave for your vacation. Maybe he won’t quite ruin everything but you’re frustrated and concerned about your lack fo good fortune nonetheless. Mauer predictably blew several calls, including one late in the fourth when he overruled the nearer official who had whistled a Pistons foul on the play to call a travel on Ray Allen.
But I digress. I’m no longer worried about Kenny Mauer. Or unforced turnovers. Or anything else about Game 5. It’s in the rearview mirror. Meanwhile, straight ahead are two more games on the EC Finals docket, only one of which Boston has to win, and the latter of which is back on the parquet floor. There are far worse places to be this time of year.